While trying to find favors that would match her “outdoor theme” for her upcoming wedding on June 2nd 2012, Kathi Cline (from Virginia) came across “Yard” Work & More while searching facebook and Pinterest. There happened to be a picture of soy candles wrapped in a brown paper bag and she thought they would be perfect for her wedding. So in March of 2012, Kathi contacted Betsy Yard of "Yard" Work & More to inquire about them. It was then that Kathi learned what Betsy Yard had started and what her mission was in regard to helping individuals in her community with developmental disabilities. Betsy Yard started "Yard Work & More" in 2010 to create a job that her son who has autism would love. They are based in Burlington, N.J. and are a volunteer group that helps young adults with autism to learn and practice new job skills in the home and local communities in N.J. They offer various services that are all completed by Betsy and her teenage son. These services include: yard work; pet sitting and walking; and assembling items such as favors for birthdays, weddings and special events, among others. Visit “Yard” Work & More’s website www.yardworkandmore.t15.org.
As Kathi searched further she learned more about what "Yard" Work & More had to offer on its facebook page. She also saw other connections they were making within the autism community. Betsy Yard has always been about "making connections" and helping others as much as possible. On "Yard" Work & More's facebook page you will also find posts from others trying to make a difference in the autism community. Two such posts include the efforts of other families whose children's lives are also touched by autism. The Gischlar Family of Yardville, N.J. has started a BoxTops for Education and Labels for Education collection drive for Eden Autism Services’ school program (www.edenautism.org). Eden’s day school provides educational services for children with autism ages 3 to 21. The Gischlar's son attends this school. One of the ways that the family is volunteering is by asking establishments in the surrounding communities to put out BoxTops for Education & Labels for Education “coupon” collection bins to benefit Eden. This involves going door to door, sending emails, phone calls and again making as many connections as possible. The BoxTops program is sponsored by the General Mills Company. Box Tops are the small pink "coupons" found on many products at the grocery store. Many go unnoticed and are thrown away. Each one is worth $.10 cents when a school redeems them. Box Tops can really add up a dime at a time. The Labels for Education program is sponsored by the Campbell’s Soup Company. Simply clip and save the UPC codes (indicated by a dotted line and Labels for Education logo) from participating products. It’s a great way to earn free supplies for the school. Eden appreciates the much needed funds in order to continue to deliver it’s outstanding programs. The funds collected are going directly towards an annual Vegetable / Flower Garden and IPads for the students. Some of the participating establishments include (in NJ): ShopRite, McCaffrey's, Acme, Marrazzo's Thriftway of Ewing, Pennington Quality Market, Shop & Stop of Pennington, Foley's Shop n Bag, plus several diners, senior centers and libraries, among others. Visit the Box Tops and Labels for Autism website www.boxtopsforautism.t15.org to find out more about this effort to benefit Eden and to find a location participating near you. Additionally, the other posting on Yard Work & More’s website is Key’s 2 Cash 4 Autism. This program was initiated to create funding for housing for adults with autism. Almost every housing program currently available has waiting lists, some are years long. The idea of this cause is to expand a nationwide key drive where everyone is asked to recycle their old keys to be traded in for the price of brass. To learn more visit www.keys2cash4autism.com.
After Kathi Cline read about these activities on the "Yard Work & More" facebook page, she contacted Betsy. Kathi loves helping people and wanted to incorporate "giving" to those in the autism community through her wedding. So with Betsy Yard and her son “Jon” making her wedding favors, she decided to do something for EDEN and the Keys to Cash program. Kathi talked to her future husband Larry about requesting BoxTops for Education and keys in lieu of wedding gifts. He said that she had a big heart, gave her a hug and agreed. In their wedding invitations, Kathi and Larry included a note requesting BoxTops and keys. Kathi also announced on her facebook page and on craigslist that she was collecting these items. Betsy Yard then came up with the idea of providing information about all three autism efforts through little packets to be included with the candle favors for Kathi and Larry's guests. Everything looked wonderful and flowed together. In total, 374 BoxTops for Education, 20 Labels for Education and 159 keys were generously donated by the newlyweds and their guests. Kathi's hope is that a lot, if not all, of her guests will continue to save BoxTops for Education, Labels for Education and keys and either mail them directly or give them to her to mail periodically. She has also received a few replies via craigslist from ladies who said they would save and mail the needed items as well.
There are many children and adults LIVING with autism in every community. Employing a teenager from Yard Work & More, collecting BoxTops for Education and Labels for Education for Eden Autism Services, and donating Key’s 2 Cash 4 Autism are a few of the many ways to help these truly amazing children and families LIVING with autism.